Duke’s Legacy

By Judy Dykstra-Brown 



I think we’ve all had the experience of accidently switching the beginnings of two words with ludicrous results, but I have to tell you my favorite story about such an occurrence. When I was still in college and for four years afterwards, I had a really pretentious brother-in-law named Duke. He supposedly had mapped out how he’d be a millionaire by the age of 30, yet he was a professional art student who never quite passed his classes but used them as an excuse to never get a job other than, eventually, night watchman at the gas company where his mother worked. My sister Sue supported them by teaching school. 

Duke was super-cool in his own eyes, drove a Corvette convertible and read Playboy, after which he seemed to have patterned his life—at least in an exterior way. After my sister divorced him, we all admitted that we disliked him and my Dad, who lived for four years against all odds, said he had primarily stayed alive to prevent Duke from inheriting any of his money! 

At any rate, when they were still married, my Dad had offered Sue and Duke a two-year-old Mazda—free. He liked to buy new cars regularly and usually offered us his barely used “old” cars, which we were always grateful to receive. The unemployed Duke, however, turned him down, saying they were accustomed to “more luxury cars!” You can imagine how that grated on my Dad, but he said nothing. 

One night when my Mom and Dad were visiting Laramie, where Sue and Duke lived and I was finishing up my Masters, my Mom, my sister Sue and I were sitting in Sue’s living room and we all decided we’d like to go to the drive-in movie. Duke offered to call and find out what the movie was. He dialed, then said in his cool-guy way of speaking, “Pardon me, but could you tell me what time the next teacher farts?” 

Needless to say, we all dissolved in laughter. He didn’t. He knew he had blown his cool and he left the room as we all vied for rolling room on the floor. Duke is long gone, but you must know that no family reunion ever goes by without that story being told to the next generation. Although he is now departed, both from our lives and this world, Duke will forever survive in family history!


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